Completion Delayed On East Link Light Rail At Least One Year

East Link Light Rail
Photo Credit: Sound Transit

The Sound Transit Board System Expansion Committee recently received a detailed briefing on continuing efforts to identify new opening dates for current Link construction projects, including the East Link project. According to the release, “While the East Link extension was planned to open in mid-2023, construction challenges are currently projected to delay the completion by at least a year.”

Since April, Sound Transit has been flagging delays affecting not only the East Link project but also the Downtown Redmond, Lynwood, and Federal Way Link projects.

“Within about the next four years, our carbon- and congestion-free light rail system will more than double from 26 to 62 miles and from 25 to 50 stations,” said Sound Transit Interim CEO Brooke Belman. “While we are on a path to fully resolve impacts of COVID-19, the concrete delivery strike and our construction challenges, we have more work to do before we can reliably establish opening dates. We will work tirelessly with our contractors to complete these extensions as rapidly as possible without compromising on safety or quality.”

The issues that East Link have been facing include construction quality and durability concerns with raised concrete structures (plinths) that support the tracks in key sections of the alignment.

Sound Transit has been analyzing concerns related to pre-cast concrete plinth blocks on the bridge segment. It has recently been reported that preliminary investigation results during July and August suggest that while some of the blocks have hairline cracks, the blocks do not need to be replaced.

There have been more issues on both the east and west sides of the bridge with cast-in-place concrete plinths supporting the tracks. There are issues with mortar pads, rebar placements and track fasteners, which the contractor has agreed to fix by re-casting the plinths to ensure the long-term reliability and safety of the extension.

According to the release, continuing work is required to identify new project opening timelines for the four projects, which must include time for activation work once construction is complete. Sound Transit will continue to assess the work being done with the light rail to identify a new completion date.

Source: Downtown Bellevue Network